Beginning in the 1750s, some American insurance companies issued metal fire marks to policyholders to signify that their property was insured against fire damage. The fire marks bore the name and/or symbol of the insurer, and some included the customer’s policy number. The company or agent would then affix the mark to the policyholder’s home or business. For owners the mark served as proof of insurance and a deterrent against arson. For insurance companies the mark served as a form of advertising, and alerted volunteer firefighters that the property was insured.
The Lorillard Fire Insurance Company of New York, New York issued this brass fire mark in 1852. The oval mark has a central image of lit torches crossed in the center. There is text at the top and bottom that reads “LORILLARD/NEW YORK” and a beaded ornamentation around the rim. The Lorillard Fire Insurance Company operated from 1852 until 1883, when it voluntarily liquidated and was reinsured by the Guardian of England.
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